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Telegram for America

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Telegram for America

Published ca. 1956

History, technology and 1950s-era practice of the telegraphy business.

Run time 19:30
Producer Transfilm
Sponsor Western Union Telegraph Co.
Audio/Visual Sd, B&W


Promotional film for Western Union Telegraph Company, featuring its history, current practice and emerging technology. Pictures Western expansion; railroads; early hand telegraphy and telegraph keys. Shows 1950s-vintage teletype and paper tape network serving all cities and towns in the United States. Shows telegraphy of service in business, to families, to government, in natural disasters (floods and fires) and in the commodities market. Numerous scenes of 1950s business and industry. Footage of Western Union plant and facilities, including the microwave tower located in the Tenleytown district of Washington, D.C. Considerable coverage of new technology including facsimile (fax) transmission and delivery of telegrams. Also coverage of the "Telmobile," a mobile reception center for fax telegrams that then delivers them to customers in outlying suburban districts.

Close-up of a hand tapping out Morse Code on a telegraph, becomes superimposed with images of cowboys and Indians, a hand written note, a charging calvary
Railroad ties being laid
Cattle corral
Cotton picking
Close-up of a bundle of paper being dropped off of a car in the city
Close-up of a telegram order being written out about babies being born -- a telegram counter
Pan of skyscrapers
A "desk fax" telegraph machine, man filling out a reply
Man in a hard hat in a construction site speaks on a telephone
Women in an office sitting behind desk telegraph machines
A very cheerful receptionist with flowers on her desk
Sailors at the Western Union station
Close-up of telegraph announcement for a twenty ton crane
Animation -- ticker tape creeps across a map of the United States
Face of telegram receiver as she looks over ticker tape, flashing light bulb blinks near control panel
"Telecar" drives up and parks in front of a house
A chalk board room -- a produce exchange marketplace with executives pointing orders to young man who writes them on the board
A woman in front of a gated ticket window
A housewife on the telephone looks at a small book
Business man at a coin phone (pay telephone)
H.F. Bauman drugstore window
Crowded bleachers of sports fans
A hurricane, a flood
The House of Representatives
A high speed newspaper center, receiving telegrams
A telegram tower
A note being written on a pad with a pencil
Women standing in front of large teleprinters / teletypes, turning dials, etc.
The Pentagon -- service people standing in front of teleprinters
Close-up of a black space in a newspaper
A reporter near an early facsimile machine printing out a page of images and text
A pan past the aisles of telegram machinery in a telegram center
Western Union Telegraph Co. (sponsor) Telegrams Telegraphy Communication Messages Electronic communication


Reviewer: Ron Raygun - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - January 16, 2010
Subject: When America was Leader
A well produced film Samuel F.B. Morse's invention made America a distinct leader when his development became the International Morse Code. And Western Union took that to new heights in the '30's through the '60's. The film predates Westar by about 20 years, and that is probably good, as the company started to lose insight, and began to lose money. If they could have retained cutting-edge top management, they could be near or at the top of the telecom industry today. But of course, when Lee Iaccoca says; "Where have all the Leaders Gone", Technology always wins.
Reviewer: lostnyc - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - November 8, 2005
Subject: Good film
I think this was an interesting film.

I believe the previous reviewer was right, at about 13:02 into the film there's a structure fire and it does look like someone jumped off a higher floor, difficult to tell for certain but going frame by frame does show what appears to be someone jumping from that burning building.
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavorite - July 4, 2005
Subject: "Someone has jumped from the window!"
A fun overview of a service that doesn't exist anymore! This film is all about Western Union. Yes boys and girls, before you cou;d get your money in an instant using their service (well, a couple of hours) WU was your telegraph service. You want a crane? Telegraph it! You want to report news of your wife's birth! By gum, Western Union was the only way! This film details of the many different telegraph services available, and how it gets from one place to another. You can have a private telegraph service if you want to! (Well, you have to be like a bank). Also, again, this film gets into facsimile service, something of which I never knew existed in the 1950's. Very odd to be proven wrong on this one. (Well, it's just very odd to be proven wrong period). Also, the film briefly talks about sending the news by wire, and shows some storms, sports scenes and fires. Watch one of the fire scenes very carefully. Is someone jumping out of a building to their deaths? The camera follows something down, I am not too sure what it is, if it is what I think it is, then wow.
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